you just talked about. i'm going to take one more question. i want to go way to the back. we've been giving these people in the front an unfair advantage. >> jared meyer, st. johns university. i had a question about -- not -- [inaudible] college, this is a different one. [laughter] we talked a hot about outstanding student loan debt. what do you think should be done? because you really cannot discharge this under any circumstances. you have to pass the bruner tests which is ultimately impossible. so is it unjust to forgive it? how does that stand in the strong tradition of bankruptcy we have in this country? what do we do with the debt that's already out there? >> good question. >> it is unjust to forgive it. it sounds kind of horrible. but this was a private decision made, someone decided to take advantage of a public subsidy. it was a calculated investment that hasn't worked out so well.
now, what can someone do who finds themselves many thousands of dollars in debt and doesn't want to be there? well, there's still more education. now, on the one hand that's helped people get even more and more in debt and get in bad places, but if you're a sociology major $60,000 in debt and you decide you really don't want to be there, well, there's the colorado school of minds for you, and go -- mines for you, and go get a degree in mineral engineering, get out there in north dakota where the average salary has increased by 40% because of the oil and natural gas boom out there. so i think it's a tough question. i don't think we should be in the business of forgiving student loan debt. i think there's a personal responsibility element there that is the orthodoxy. >> i agree with david that we shouldn't be forgiving it as a matter of public policy. but unfortunately, we already are. we have public service loan
forgiveness, we have teacher loan forgiveness, we have a myriad of loan forgiveness programs already. and anybody else who's struggling with debt is potentially eligible for income-based repayment at the end of which we forgive the debt, so, you know, i think the unfortunate answer is we have built in alternatives to bankruptcy discharge, and and that's simply reality. the costs of those programs, then, are ultimately cycled back and paid for by the other participants in the program. >> i think a really important message of the book and of this discussion is being clear-eyed and truthful about what we're doing. with simple truths like if two-thirds of the people are having postsecondary education, then it cannot be that all of them will makeover the median income. that's math. [laughter] and yet what do you hear every
time you read some popular article on this? well, you'll certainly make more money than half the people at least if you get an education. and we have to be precisely honest about what we're doing, about what is consumption and what is investment and what are likely investments to be and what does it really mean to be in debt, discharge bl or not? i think this book is a really strong set of steps forward in getting more clear-eyed with ourselves as a society about what's going on here as was this discussion today. so let's thank our excellent panel. [applause] >> the stays mouth dome one of the most iconic symbols of the maryland statehouse, but it is actually not the first dome to
cover the building. when the building is completed in 1779, it's topped by a small, undersized cup la which is decried for all sorts of architectural problems. by the 1780s it's being described as being built contrary to all laws of modern architecture. in 1785, less than two years after congress is in annapolis, construction begins on a new dome to the statehouse. they, of course, have to first dismantle l the original cup to la, and it takes them about the years to complete it. the construction on the exterior begins in 1787, it's completed in about 1797. it's built entirely without structural nails. it's held together with joins and elaborate iron strapping which really, it's truly a architectural masterpiece. in the 19th century during the war of 1812, the statehouse dome is used as a lookout.
it affords a commanding view of the river and of the chesapeake bay, and so we have tremendous documentation of will yang barney, son of joshua barney, going up to the statehouse dome and using what he called his excellent glass to observe the troop movements on their way back and forth up the day in 1814. >> more about maryland's statehouse as booktv and american history tv look at the history and literary life of annapolis on c-span2. and today at 5 on c-span3. >> allison stewart presents a history of the first public high school for african-american students in the united states, washington, d.c.'s dunbar high school, next on booktv. the author reports that dunbar sent 80% of its graduates to college in 1950 with alumni that includes the first black army general and the first black member of a presidential cabinet. this is about an hour and ten minutes.
>> to quote the jamaican knew session decision and -- musician and activist, slavery is not our history, slavery interrupted our history. with that being said, roughly 6,000 years ago, the schooling system created thousands of years before the greeks' plato and his university system. 1440-1442 ushers in the european domination of the portuguese exploit african kindness to spread their version of civilization. from 1440 to 1865, nearly an unrecorded 100 million people's lives are lost or scattered from their homes of origins to do the bidding of the colonizers. according to herbert apdecker,
1526 was the actual first landing of stolen africans on u.s. soil in south carolina by the spanish. but they rebelled, joined the so-called indians and became -- [inaudible] 1619, the first official group of enslaved africans reached jamestown, virginia, via the british. 1865, the legal abolishment of chattal slavery happens in the united states. shortly thereafter mainly in the south, an estimated 500 freedom schools, underground stolen african places of learning be it by a tree or in actual buildings are created. again, to show the premium stolen africans placed on education. 1870, the preparatory high school for colored youth, now called dunbar, was formed. 1890, june 4, 5, and 6, the first mohawk conference on the knee grow question was -- negro
question was con vined with the -- convened with the question, if so, how to educate these now-free stolen africans. as quoted by the former president, rutherford b. hayes, we're responsible for their presence and condition on this continent, having deprived them of their labor, liberty and manhood and us having grown rich and strong while doing it, we have no excuse for neglecting them if our selfishness prompted us to do so. i share this quick history to highlight the premium stolen africans placed on education before enslavement and afterwards as well as a bit of the struggles we faced to get quality education in the face of insurmountable odds. to insure a high quality of education that reflected us, in the book you will read the names of great race men and women of their time as well as prominent figures of stolen african
history to come through the hallowed halls of dunbar high. written with an intimate knowledge of the material -- both of her parents went to dunbar -- written from firsthand accounts by gathering a lot of oral history as well as copiously documented research and most importantly, written in narrative format where the peoples, struggleses and triumphs of this historic institution flows easily off the page and directly into the readers' hearts. mrs. allison stewart has down the alumni and her parents proud with the telling of this important be story. mrs. allison stewart first caught my attention on mtv. she was on abc, world news tonight -- albeit 12-6 in the morning -- [laughter] then cbs, then msnbc from 3 to
3:30 in the morning. she must be a night owl like myself, i guess. [laughter] then on radio at npr, pbs, and now she's right here at the most important initials, p and p. [laughter] i now bring to the podium the former veejay, the news journalist, the wife, the mother, the could have been model and now author, allison stewart, and her book, "first class: the legacy of dunbar, america's first black public high school." [applause] >> thank you, everybody, so much for coming out tonight. and thank you for that lovely introduction, wow. i'm going to introduce myself to folks who pay be encountering me for the first time. my name is allison stewart, and my mom was in the dunbar class of 1947, and my dad was in the dunbar class of 1946, and my
grandfather was in the m street class of 1915. so now if you're from d.c., you've probably heard about cup bar from a mom -- dunbar from a mom or a dad or an uncle. and if you're not from d.c., the story might be unfamiliar to you, so i do want to introduce it a little bit to folks who may be thinking what's so important about this high school. the story goes something like this. dunbar high school was a place where highly-educated and engaged teachers who had the highest expectations for their students -- and as a result, they produced scholars who then went on to college -- in the 1950s 80% of dunbar graduates went to college. and as a result, they excelled in a wide range of fields from business to education to the sciences and the arts. now, i could be talking about andover or exeter or any of these schools, but the reason, one of the reasons dunbar was so
spectacular and the story itself is so spectacular is because dunbar was a segregated high school in the nation's capital. and it produced some of the greatest african-americans and some of the great withest americans -- greatest americans period. so many firsts came from dunbar high school. i always feel like i have to wind up because the list so long. i'll give a few. the first black graduate of the naval academy was a dunbar graduate. the first black army general was a dunbar graduate. the first black federal judge, a dunbar graduate. the first black presidential cabinet member, a dunbar graduate. you see where i'm going with this. in the arts, dr. billy taylor, jazz musician. elizabeth catlett, fine artist in the museum of modern art. and even -- i wouldn't say even more important, but as important as all of these bold-faced names were the hundreds of teachers who 40 came out of cup bar -- who came out of dunbar who fanned out into d.c. and into
the south and into the colored school systems with a fantastic basis of an education. and how many people have dunbar graduates who are participants or aunt the cities? -- parents or aunties? okay, so you'll relate to this story. i was looking for people to interview for the book, and i wanted to talk to some people, and be i realized valerie jarrett's father went to dunbar. so it took me a year, but i got to the white house -- [laughter] and this is one of the stories she told me. i don't want to tell all of them, because they're pretty funny, but this sort of sums it up for people about the first time she heard about dunbar from her father. she said i was a very young child. dunbar was critical in my father's past and his path in life. he gives it full credit for having been educated. he, together with his colleagues, at a world class level. anytime i would ever say anything that was grammatically incorrect, as dunbar high school taught me --
[laughter] and then he would correct me. and he's a big believer in don't be lazy with your grammar. do not be lazy period. certainly, do not be lazy in how you speak. and i think that as a young child, i remember him telling me stories about dunbar high school. and really to this day just gives it an enormous amount of credit for the shaping of his life. one of the great benefits of working on this book and writing this book, the reason i wanted to write this book initially was i would hear all these stories from my parent and from my uncle and cousins who all went to dunbar, and i thought it was such an incredible story. i was sort of fascinated with the idea that you had incredibly educated african-americans still living in an educated city, that you could speak french fluently, but some person in a store wouldn't let you come in and buy a coat. i just thought that was such a bizarre contradiction.
and one of the great benefits i saw, i thought, was i could actually talk to people who had experienced this firsthand. but i realized i was in a bit of a race against time because the people who could bear witness to what happened at dunbar were all in their 70s, 80s and 90s. so i've told the story before if you've heard it. if not, kind of funny. i decided in 2006 i was just going to do it. so i started writing letters, query letters to get interview, and i really didn't have myself together just yet. so i sent out a few, and i got one back corrected from a dunbar -- [laughter] so that was a clue about what i was doing. i was very lucky to have that happen early, but i was also very happy that i sent one out, and i came -- i was working at msnbc, and i came back and checked my voicemail, and it was senator ed brook saying i would
be happy to talk to you about dunbar, it was one of the most important experiences in my life. so that's kind of the challenge and the easy part. the difficult part about writing a book like this is that my probe tag nist is a building -- protagonist is a building, is a school, is a thing. and how do you bring that to life? but as i talked to graduates and as i read and started researching, i really realized dunbar had a spirit and a soul even though it was a building and a school and an entity. and i really wanted to see what the school was like now. i figured, okay, let me go to the school. it's about 2005, 2006. i want to go see, there must be history at the school, there must be yearbooks. so i was working in d.c., and i said to minute, hey, i'm going over to dunbar high school, and hay said, dunbar, they have an awesome football team. i said, yeah, they do, and sports are really important be,
but what about all the great academics that have come out of the school, and the person had no knowledge of it. and this was a very smart d.c. perp. and i thought, well, that's a little alarming, that he doesn't know. and be then when i got to the school, i understood why he didn't know. i went to the school that was one that was built in 1977, and i went in, and nobody stopped me. i sort of, you know, in journalism they say walk like you belong and just keep going, so i did that. and i notice inside the hallway there were picture frames up on the wall in plastic, cheap, you know, wool worth's kind of frames tilted and cracked with ed brooks' picture and william hasty's picture, and it was really just a very sad thing. and there was a cabinet that had some old, faded photographs. i could make out one of the faces of dr. charles drew when he was a kid holding a basketball, but he were fading, and they a weren't behind
protected flases. and it struck me, oh, my god, this history might actually be lost if somebody doesn't write this down, if somebody doesn't permanent it like a book, something, someone needs to record the history. and for a while i thought, well, should i contact michael lewis or mark boden or one of these fantastic writers? i thought, no, i'm going to do it. i've never done it before, but i'm going to do it, why not? that's how i started my journey. one of the things that's interesting, i learned a lot doing research, they know me at the howard library and the library of congress and the sumner archives. and one of the things i found so interesting about washington, d.c. which i had no idea, maybe you folks do because you're from here, is washington had good schools for colored children in the 19th century. and i say this in the intro of the book that i use the language of the eras, colored, negro,
black african-american, and this is interesting. one of the editors at my publisher said this is making me really uncomfortable. i said, good, that's the point. [laughter] like, it should make you feel a certain way. but washington had very decent schools. they were small, they were private, they were in churches, they were in homes because unlike in the south as marshall mentioned, in the south it was simply illegal to teach someone, a colored person, to read. it was, and the colored person could be -- as one of the, i went down to south carolina to read some of the slave triplets, and a yes -- transcripts, and a gentleman remembered, lord, don't you get caught with a pencil or pen. even though there weren't going to be public schools provided for free black chirp, they weren't going to stop them from learning. and that was an amazing, an amazing thing. and i really feel like it's one
of the cornerstones for why the high school was able to be established, because you already had learning going on in the district. so after, after the civil war, the local leaders realized we have to do something with all these churn. and i don't want to give away too many details, but there were a group of free black men. they said if we're going to get a high school, if we're going to get past the grammar school level, this is the time to do it. so they were able to establish a high school, the preparatory high school for colored youth. they weren't given a building, so they went to the base withment of a church with four students on november 4, 1870, and that was the first today of class. now, here's something interesting. the reason why i sort of started realizing dunbar had a pitter and a soul -- spirit and a soul was there wasn't a physical high school building for 22 years. the school traveled from
building to building in and out of grammar schools. and in the course of that, the people who were the teachers and the principals began very early on establishing it as a place of academic rigor. among the first three principals was the first black graduate of harvard and the first black woman in the country to get her four-year degree at overland, mary j. patterson. and she really was instrumental in starting the heavy duty, strict academic curriculum. the teachers at dunbar over the course of its old dunbar as a lot of people call it existence were extraordinary intellects. many of them were the first blacks to go to competitive schools, amherst, overland, brown, yale, harvard. and when they would graduate, they could not get job ands often -- jobs often. they couldn't teach in universities. if they went op to get masters and ph.d.s, they couldn't
teach because of jim crow laws. i'm sure many of you people heard stories about having high school teachers with ph.d.s in the languages. eva dykes, she's the first woman to earn all her credits for a ph.d. at radcliffe. she graduated from dunbar, even though in the process of trying to write her dissertation when she went to the south, she couldn't get into certain libraries, they wouldn't let her in. but she still managed to complete it. that was the kind of teaching force that was at dunbar. it also attracted people who had degrees in law. there was a medical doctor who was one of the principals, one was a lawyer, but when someone asked him why he was teaching, he said he does like the paycheck. [laughter] the reputation of the school really grew, and it became, it became a way of life to be at
dunbar, and there was a certain code of behavior and certain things were expected of you. and one of the things that i loved reading more than anything in my research were the handbooks with their instructions on how to behave. and i'm going to read a little bit from the handbooks. i'm going to read a little bit, i'll lead up to it. being a dunbar student was a way of life. a strong program was a given and was the reason why students went to dunbar and would excel, period. the school adopted a latin motto -- [speaking in native tongue] , greater in adversity, equal in prosperity. the words formed a halo around a woman with a book in her lap. new students were informed that to be at dunbar they had to have, quote, a serious purpose to succeed. to achieve those ends, students were counseled about what to eat and wear and how to behave. be all students were given a small handbook and asked to read
it and consult it regularly. the handbook went far beyond the classroom. it might actually make a libertarian uncomfortable. the student handbook instructed students not to gossip, it suggested sleeping eight hours a day, quote, with the windows open. there are even guidelines on how to pick friends. quote: girls and boys who fail in lessons who are unsatisfactory or careless in their habits should not be chosen as company -- companions. [laughter] if a student was lucky enough to stay at dunbar, he or she was a represent tuf of dunbar wherever that student went. two pages of student handbook were devoted about how to act in public. on walking down the street, avoid loud talking, boisterous laughter or familiar actions. if you desire to converse with a friend, walk with her a little way, but don't loiter. leave the street corners for traffic. for conduct at social affairs,
students were told to always greet your host and hostesses upon entering the hall. if the function is a dance, remember the following suggestions; boys ask the girls to dance, boys after dancing thank your partner and escort her back to her seat, do not leave her in the middle of the floor. [laughter] girls, remember all wraps before dancing -- remove all wraps before dancing. do not accept an invitation to dance with anyone with whom you are not acquainted. gum chewing is in bad taste, avoid it. [laughter] they meant business. i don't mean to make it sound as though it were easy for dunbar to continue to exist. every victory for the school was hard fought from getting the buildings to maintaining the high level of the curriculum. the school was under constant fire to try to roll back the curriculum. at one point it was suggested they exchange robinson crew sew
for shakespeare because it might be a little easier for the negro children to understand. there was this effort to constantly try to roll in some of the technical aspects and the business aspects, but the principals there and the students and the community fought mightily and fought hard to continue to keep dunbar primarily a, an act dem kick school. academic school. this was to protect the students. this was to to prepare the students for an inhospitable world that they knew they would be going into -- bless you. let me read a little bit more from, actually, from valerie jarrett's father. i, one of the fun things i got to do was go to an event on martha's vineyard that celebrated dunbar graduates, and they had five graduates in the 1930s on stage including valerie jarrett's dad. and they all just talked a bit about what dunbar meant to them,
and i'll read a couple of quick bites. jarrett's father told the audience, we were always told, almost brainwashed that you can do it. and when you leave here, you can compete. that's the most important thing, and we believed it. when you get out, you can compete with anybody. john king iii, he graduated in the class of 1939, and harold nelson who also graduated in '39, spoke of their families' involvement in the school. then there was the school unity, rector recalled. all the people i knew went to dunbar. that is what it was, it was a community. harold nelson got a big and knowing laugh from the audience when he added, my mother kept saying you are going to be somebody. the other part of being somebody is you will never embarrass me. [laughter] and this was something that that really truck me as something i take for -- struck me as something i take more granted in
my life and i'm sure most people my age take for granted, and it was about the teachers, what the gift of dunbar was. and she said the teachers put their faith and hope on the intelligent students, students who came from simple homes. a lot of parents had mod best jobs, regular jobs, government jobs. it created stability. it allowed people to plan. i thought, what a simple idea, to be able to plan your life. because you've been ditch the education -- given this education. you can think about what it is you want to do. you want to have dreams and hopes and aspirations and also just having a very basic, stable middle class. i mean, we hear -- we talk about that now still. but the ability to plan. it just always, it always struck me. i mentioned that a lot of the students and the teachers were not shy about this, letting them know when they got out into the world outside of what ed brook told me they called the cocoon
or the bubble that they had been so protected from anybody telling hem that they were lesser when everybody knew in the outside world, people thought that negroes were intellectual and socially inferior. i mean, that's what segregation was about, right? you stay over there, i'll stay over here. and a lot of the men felt it when they entered the armed forces and the services because it wasn't until 1948, until truman integrated the armed services. and i mentioned the first black graduate of the naval academy was commander wesley brown, and i got to spend a lot of time with him and his wife several years ago. he's since passed away. and he told me -- one of the questions i asked all dunbar graduates was when was a time in your life that you knew dunbar had served you well? can you give me an instance? and he described when he was at the academy. he chose not to rom -- not to room with anybody at the academy.
he wasn't the first black person to go, he was the first to make it through. this was interesting. brown was not that concerned with the academics though. he felt confident in his high school training, especially after witnessing some of his classmates. quote, when i went to the academy, i noticed there were a lot of guys with straight as in high school and so forth who weren't doing so well, and i concluded a lot of them were not challenged because their schools were not competitive. observed a lot of the cadets were unpleasantly surprised by the effect of a curfew on their grades. what dunbar did for me, it taught me how to study. i didn't have time. i learned to get to the meat of the assignment. as a high school student, brown had worked from after school until midnight as a mail clerk to help support the family. my family didn't have any money or political drag, he later explained, i had a limited time to study. in addition to working in the
mail room and running track, he was the cadet colonel of the dunbar high school cadet corps. i devote a lot of time to the cadet corps -- knowing nods -- about how important the cadet corps was to so many of the young men and later on the young women, what we kind of think of as razi now. it was interesting. one of the things i found when i was interviewing dunbar graduates, they'd say, oh, honey, i don't have anything to tell you, and then they'd tell me some fantastic, amazing story. and wesley brown kind of had one of those. and, you know, i was sort of talking to him about his bravery and what i find to be the bravery of the people who went to dunbar high school who went out into the world and just said to the world with, i can do this, i got this. i'm as good as anybody else. and they were the people who paved the way for my generation. quite literally. let me find this great thing he
says. all right. so he's, he's in the naval academy, and he's getting demerits right and left, but he's still at the top half of his class. he's getting demerits because, we all know why, right? and let me describe this very funny moment. at the time of our interview, the then 79-year-old brown was quick to say that some cadets were cordial or decent to him or at least had the decency to ignore him. in his home office full of files, clippings and history books, he didn't want to dwell on the negative parts of the experience and those who treated him poorly. he looks back at that time with the curiosity of a scientist investigating why some cadets were beg otted. -- bigoted. brown posed the question to himself, i don't know, i have to look in somebody's mind and say is in this guy a natural born racist? is he doing this because his parents taught him that way? or is he afraid that the upper classmen will punish him because
he's friendly to me? the one person that helped me a lot was this guy named jimmy carter. [laughter] yeah, that jimmy carter. so president carter remembered wesley brown quite well, spoke very highly of him. i had a nice phone conversation with president carter about him, and he did use the word brave about him. he said about wesley brown, he was brave, and i think he was an outstanding person. i think had he been timid or lacked courage or arrogant or so forth, he would not have been successful. this was before jackie robinson played baseball, so this was a very early time, and he was brave, and he was intelligent, and he was well behaved, and he responded to hazing and quiet persecution with equilibrium. so as i'm reading these stories and hearing these i don't have anything to tell you, honey, stories and then these great lines, it was very exciting to write down the history of old
dunbar. and then it was very frustrating to write down the recent history of ton bar. cup bar. dunbar. i pound that up until the 2000s there was always a corner that dunbar that was there mr. weather it was the pre-engineering program or a student who had family who had gone to dunbar. even though all the difficulties of the outside world made hair way into dunbar in the '60s, '70s, '80s and especially in the violation of the '9s. there were people who protected the legacy of dunbar. but the 2000 story's tough, you know? and i went in there, and i saw, you know, there were some kids who were trying to study, and there were some teachers who were trying to teach, and there were some teachers who shouldn't have been there at all, and there were some kids who just needed a good home whupping, frankly. [laughter] and i got another sort of sense of energy about writing this book, because it was about the time that all the school reform
was happening in d.c., when michelle rhee took over, and there was all this discussion about what are we going to do and how are we going to do it, and what's our plan? all i kept thinking was do you know you have an amazing blueprint three blocks away? why isn't anyone looking at the lessons of dunbar if you're thinking about going forward? think about all of the social and legal obstacles that the folks faced who went to dunbar. we all know a brand new school, there's a brand new dunbar which opened. the kids went there to do. it's a $122 million school, and there was such great energy around the school, and there was such great energy, people had a real sense of hope, you know? there's some sweet, there's some sweet things like the dunbar three, i'll call it, is back on the original footprint of dunbar i. they had dunbar i had been knocked down in the '70s in a very, very personal fight, and the new dunbar, the one that was
supposed to be this fortress but most people think it looks like a parking garage or worse, a prison, that's going to go away very soon. and they have this brand new, beautiful school. and one of the things they did with the school which i really loved is they've built the history physically into the school. there are plaques all oh the floor with the names of wesley brown and william hasty so the kids can see every single day, and they've left many of them blank with the idea that could be you which is very aspirational. but there's two things i do want to say about the new school, and they're tough because i don't know if any of you know that, three computers were stolen yesterday. the windows were broken, right? and one of the architects said to me in a moment of candor, a building can only do so much. and that brought me right back to it's about the teachers, which is why i end the book focused on three people who i met at modern dunbar who give you hope, because it is about the teachers.
one is marvin parker who is the girls' track coach and the dean of students, and he had been at a christian school in a pretty cushy job, and he was asked to coach at dunbar, and he said he was up for a challenge. he kind of reminds me of the handbook. he sent home a list oi what the kids eat, they needed to be at school, if they couldn't get there, he goes and picks them up in a van. and this was his first reaction to when he came to dunbar and sort of all the talk about dunbar. he said, after being around these girls, they are intelligent young ladies, but the reputation of d.c. schools is these kids were plum dumb and had no clue. i just walked in this building and found out it was just not the case. some of these girls were straight brilliant. when he did start asking why some students weren't trying, the answer was trite and true: peer pressure. they were trying to keep a false image. putting on the voice of a teenager trying to act hard.
i broke it down to them how stupid it was. nobody owns nothing in d.c. the federal government owns everything in d.c. you are representing neighborhoods and projects that care nothing about you. he hadn't realized the depth of the girls' inspirational deprivation until he started taking them on tours of colleges when they had track meets. we went to virginia tech, i met with the director of pre-engineering. he took the girls all around. they went in dorm rooms. you should have seen their faces. i could have just cried. the girls had no idea that life could be like that. i never have to win another championship, but my girls have got to go to college, he says. his nearby changes when -- his demeanor changes when he thinks about the bigger picture. we need to start telling the truth about these things. you want to break cycle, break the cycle of having babies, staying in d.c., being on section 8 and never leaving the -- i hope i have the page, i may have to look this up.
he put it so beautifully and simply. a young white guy, he says the kids ask him about his hair a lot. of. [laughter] his name is matthew stewart, no relation. and he was part of the teach for america wave, but he always just really wanted to be a teacher. this wasn't something he was doing to enhance his resumé or anything like that. and he put it very plainly. about what it means and how we're going to help kids in the situation, help kids at dunbar. he said, you stay. that's the biggest thing. the first year as much as anything, it's just getting tested out. and the students want to know what your reputation is. they've known that i was the 12th grade teacher. so, i mean, i come to work every day, there's always a lesson, and identify been here for a while -- i've been here for a while. if you care, that's all they need. thank you. [applause]
i'm happy to take any questions. i don't know often comes out of my mouth, so just be warned. does anyone want to come up? yea, first person. >> hi, allison. before i ask you a question, i want to speak to the audience for a minute. dunbar's so important that i think anybody involve inside education in america needs to read it. that's number one. but there is a problem if she wants to great it later. allison is a thief, if she wants to address it later, having said that. you present accurately a dunbar that disproved the racist theory that african-americans can't learn. not only can they learn, they can learn equally or perhaps even better in the right conditions than white america. and then we get to the fall of dunbar and something you didn't
mention in the book because it wasn't appropriate, but a dunbar student is recognized as a person who brought crack cocaine to d.c. in that point. but it shows the two extremes. and now you have, and everyone should visit. i was there two days last week, should visit dunbar high school and see what a building can be and do. i've never, and, again, just prosthelytizing for a second, i've never seen a building, and i've been in education 30-plus years, i've never seen a building that brought the past, the present and the future together like that building. it just doesn't exist. but then on sunday night, the day before the -- >> yeah. but i also think that's a really good reminder, because we can get tied up in the romanticism. there's a long way to go, and we've got to stay on top of it. >> that is a perfect segway to my question. i happen to be fortunate enough to know the three who worked there.
you've studied it a lot, it's not the purpose of your book. what would you recommend? because probably as well as anyone across the board, you thousand know dunbar. do you have any recommendations of what it should do and then in turn what america could do? because i don't think it's overstating it that dunbar, if dunbar can get back to even anywhere near those heights, we have an answer for something we haven't had an answer for for years. >> well, i think the biggest question and concern i have and i i have is one way that a lot of people are asking who is this new school for because that neighborhood is gentrifying. and the school's much bigger than the current population. they want to bring kids from all over the city into the school, and that could be great. i just don't want to see the kids who have been underserved for so long discarded. and i really, i applaud the twilight academies that they're doing where they're pulling the kids out who have not passed and getting them up to speed. also just going to see a repeat of what happened from the '30s and '40s when the elementary
schools in d.c. became overrun, the black ones, and the kids were only going to school two and three hours a day, and when they integrated, these kids were up against kids who had had a proper early childhood education. is that's one thing. i think you have to really do -- i think make sure you take care of that population while you bring the other in, this other -- whoever's going to fill up the other 500 slots or people who are going to move in the neighborhood. my sort of pollyanna hope for dunbar is you can't go back to that, and there are many reasons you shouldn't go back to that. the original founders of dunbar, those three men, they wanted an integrated school, and everyone said are you crazy? you can't do that. so i sort of have a hope that dunbar could be organically integrated in 15 years. if that neighborhood, if people come in and black families stay and white families come in, or if you have people coming in from all over the city white and black, i mean, i know it's a little pollyanna, but wouldn't
that be great? that we have, you know with, people just coming to school together? but i think the key going forward is to make sure there's remediation for those students, because you just can't discard them. >> thank you. >> sure. >> and you've written a brilliant book. >> oh, well, thank you. i tried hard. it was very funny. i got one bad review and it said it was chatty and ambling. i said, eh, that's all right. >> my name's dwaip. did you see the pta developing there? >> yes. in fact, the head of the pta spoke friday. we were sitting next to even other, and she said to the parents there, you've just gotten $122 million lottery ticket. claim this school. claim this school. i, you know, so hard when you see a lot of these kids are in foster care, their parents aren't around. they've extended the school day. it's amazing to see how much
breakfast is full when they offer free breakfast. i think that is a huge challenge, and that was another piece of dunbar's puzzle, was parental involvement. if woman who prepared the pta was on fire, so i think they have a good leader there. if anyone will follow her, i guess, is the issue. >> they could set the tone, and it's really important. >> yeah. >> thank you. .. p.m.
how schools in d.c. are or are not allowed to hold the standard? >> that's a hard one. matthew stewart addressed it in his class. i've got a class were senior does not to put a se c. and n. . together. in yet another student who, i don't want to get them in trouble but it was clear she came in, they talked, he gave her assignment, left. it wasn't worth it for her to sit in a class. it was such different levels, you know? in the '60s, correct me if i'm wrong, they were tracking kids right after kids before, some of the kids being so underserved that almost all the black kids were being thrown into the basic track. and so judge skelly get away without but but i thought of teachers talk about we need to people at their levels and be able to teach at their level. i'm not sure what the right answer is.
there is that, you know, our mike it's going to go in the public school in the fall? my husband, should we then -- you don't know what to do. i don't really have an answer. i really don't. i think one of the reasons dunbar was successful, it was in the -- all the kids knew they're going to go to college, we're going to go to dunbar and they kept the standards i. armstrong, cardoza, you got a good education which also learned a trick. you got a job afterwards. in my mind i think we need to sort of take the stigma off of technical innovation schools. [applause] >> i agree. >> i don't know if that answers your question. >> my name is campbell jones and i'm a third generation washingtonian. we'll talk on the radio before. the comment about the tracking and all of that this kind of
interesting. my parents and grandparents all went to dunbar. my grandfather, he came over from alexandria to go daily. you had to walk halfway across town to get to school, and he told me he didn't have an overcoat. he had a sport coat, puts what is on underneath hey, i don't need a code, you know? he ended up being the highest ranking black in the military, a colonel. and ended up integrating the armed forces which what i had mentioned to you. what i was going to say is i went to a track school, and -- >> [inaudible] >> and we took the same classes as the best western wilson high school students took, and we
scored u as well or better on te exams. we have dedicated teachers, and those stories about, if you messed up, the story would get home before you did. you would be in -- but now, the technical high school, mckinley technology high school, and it's changed. you don't see so many folks who look like me in that school. so i do raise a question about what's happening in dunbar, and in fact i've been working for the past, i don't how many years, -- this is just the kind of thing that curiously our civic leadership has been doing to us. we elect them and they petraeus.
but, you know, it's alive. >> i think it's important to bring it up. >> i believe if anybody is interested, we have organizations have been challenging for 10 years on a variety of fronts from small landlord, small business persons, folks just trying to keep their homes without taxes going out the window. so we are very effective in doing this kind of thing. i want to thank you very much for this book. i know that it's helped me along the way on some research i've got to do. >> good. >> something i may end up running as well. >> that was one of the difficult things, there were so many stories to tell and i had to stay focused. that was really hard. i would just go down rabbit holes -- focus. i mean, there were so many great dunbar stories. i've been getting a lot from people e-mailing me at the moment website.
maybe will be in a printing some the and of the whole section of the letters that would be nice to be. >> you may have a whole section of a bookstore, you know? you know, where acknowledgment for which a day in terms of one thing or another in getting other books published. i want to thank you so very much and telling the stories that need to be told. we are not just people who pass through d.c. folks like my grandfather and all of them started the settlement houses and whatnot, with respect to the 12 street y. these folks helps. >> thank you. [applause] >> my name is margaret and i'm a 1950 graduate of dunbar high school. school. >> did you know my uncle, arnold graham? he was class of 50, my uncle. nevermind. probably better.
>> questions in terms of division of dunbar, the new dunbar and where it's going. i understand you interviewed vincent gray, the mayor of d.c. so i would like to know each you got a reaction from him in terms of what he sees in terms of the new dunbar? and overall, education of students in washington, d.c. he appoints the chancellor, and he should be in touch with what her vision is. and does it match what he thinks should be going on? you know, to what degree did you get an insight into what he was thinking? >> the two things i can say i got from him, in terms of insight, he was very concerned that the dunbar student in the late 90s and 2000s did not have a connection to the dunbar a long i, that there seem to not
be enough of back and forth and he really felt that -- i detail in his voice he really felt like he and others needed to do more to sort of include, especially the 2000 years were so tough when dunbar left no child left behind. people who were there, i recorded the whole thing and you can hear, they go through classes from 1930s, 1940s, 1950s. i the time to get to 2000, one or two clapped who came to this meter he said that was something that bothered him. that was something he wanted to work on was to bring the past and the present or the near recent present together together the other thing he said, he felt it was important, this is in policy, it was important to teach the kids to do for themselves, that not to give them everything. and decided an example of some kitty came to him and said, we need speed bumps on our street, can you do that? he said i can teach you how to
write a letter. i can explain you the process about to get it done. i'm not going to do it for you. he said he felt very good he felt like that was something that needed to be in the school, the sense of how to do for yourself. it's not all going to happen. but that's about as far as we got on policy. i really was talking to him about his personal experience at dunbar. >> in terms of what kind of leadership he could provide and what he thought of -- >> we didn't all policy at all. we just talked about his personal story. >> well, i'm sure you ran across some concern about the leadership, the current leadership. >> you can't write about d.c. education, you can't. going to the meetings is eye-opening. about closing of schools and stuff that isn't in the book, i just went to just hear people and their concerns. i brought the question of, because he made quite an issue,
michelle rhee, as part of his campaign against the past mayor. and so that's the reason i was wondering if he addressed what he saw since he kept -- >> he did say to me about her, and it's in the book, that he felt she did not understand middle-class black people and that she did not essentially understand what the teacher meant to middle-class black people, that it's a position of respect and the way she talked about teachers and the firing of teachers that he really felt she was tone deaf on that issue. that's what he told me. >> it's still going on. >> hello. you came. >> good evening. >> he told me i couldn't call him mr. dean anymore spent time in 1957 graduate of dunbar spent so happy to see you. >> does everybody know who this
is? >> this is colbert king, pulitzer prize winner of the "washington post." let me just introduce you. [applause] >> -- job referred to me as mentor. you refer to me as mr. king. you ratted me out as i was not available for when you came to interview me. i came to say publicly the people of washington, d.c., i'm sorry. [laughter] sorry. thank you very much for this wonderful book. >> thank you. such a sweetheart. [applause] >> work, thank you for writing this book. i just really wanted to share my father was a graduate, i think a contender after grandfather at dunbar. he even graduated summa come howard medical.
he applied, volunteer for the medical corps. he received him lead her back from the army stating that they appreciated it interest that they had their fill of color doctors. it really just me off. which i have the letter. he and his brother, the first black corporation counsel for d.c., the stories about being in the civil rights movement, being attacked at savings and demonstrations to that also affected me. but the men in the family, most of his brothers and sisters, was always about the corn and how you conducted yourself. i was listening to your litany of the handbook. i didn't know there was a handbook. but a new -- >> that was just one page of the handbook. >> i had a list that sticks with
me to this day. a piece about you will not embarrass me, almost every day. >> thank you for sharing. hello, sir. >> how are you today? >> i am very good. >> you are, indeed. [laughter] i didn't go to dunbar. my wife -- sweet potato. [laughter] sweet potato. my wife parents went to dunbar, her mother and her father. i'm an immigrant. i came up with the great migration in 1936. i came from gary, indiana. i was the son of a sharecropper and i didn't go to school until i was 10. but when i got the measles as a child when i was four, i was in bed for four days and the houses were papered with newspaper, and i knew the alphabet.
my brother taught it to me. so i was towards him and mother mother would tell me what the words were. that's how we learned to read the first word i learned was m-e-m-p-h-i-s. what's that, mom? >> memphis. the memphis press. i read every damn paper on that wall. [laughter] that's how it learned to read. i mention that because we're talking about education. we are talking about specifically a problem with blacks, colored, negroes or whoever i am. and education, and dunbar represents the top to get some people who got together and said, according to your book, my wife is blind and i read a chapter every night. i've read a newspaper in one and a chapter of a book, and we read the help, we read everything. that's what we do.
i'm impressed with what you've done with the beginning of teaching and learning in the city of washington, d.c. one thing is missing, i noticed, because in the mid '50s i helped set up what was called the citywide social adjustment for children had been put out of schools all over the city. my children, i call myself bad, daddy or poppe. to every black child in the world. because he is related to me. and if you see me, that's how they see them. they are my children. i went to schools would've been discharged to talk to the teachers to i notice your band instructor noticed, no parent into the schools. well, i went to the homes to see why they got put out of school. and i noticed one thing, generally, that was unanimously
agreed upon. there was no reading material in the home, not even a newspaper. not a comic book. not a bible. down south we all had sunday school books. we had of our sunday school books. you read your sunday school lesson. didn't make sense sometimes but you read it. [laughter] nowhere in the world i could leave that it rained 40 days and 40 nights and nobody -- no, no, no. i was swimming. [laughter] not to digress too much, but -- >> i'm enjoying. >> but i noticed that was a problem among those people come and it's still a problem. we don't have any teaching materials in the homes where those children came from. we worry about why they are attacking each other and why they let anything else to think
about. the journey begins with thinking, and you have to have a mind. in order to do some thinking going you can't just set up. >> that's what i like about extending the school days to give the kid who may not have anything to go to at home, they can stay at the school longer. >> right. >> i think that's a really good thing they're starting to do at dunbar, these longer school days spent i would take the class to my house for lunch, and sweet potato would be there and welcomed them in and give them soup and whatever have you. we've only been married a 62 years. she raised my four children and me, too. [applause] [laughter] >> that's another thing, black men have a problem becoming men in our generation. and i think that floyd, would you agree? we had a problem becoming men because we didn't want to patterned after the men that we
saw. i didn't want to be -- i didn't want to be stepping -- i do want to do anything that i saw in the movies. and i didn't see anybody else. >> that's the thing about dunbar, there were incredible role models every day. they used to bring people to speak to the students all the time about careers and options. it was really something. thank you. >> the last thing is, when my wife -- wait, wait, wait. [applause] spent there's a line behind you. >> my wife is a social worker, i used to social call with her and we noticed in those homes where there were no fathers, and eight, nine children, not only that but they did anything in there to read. and i made damn sure that every time one of my children was born he had dr. seuss in the crib with him. when he came out, he had
dr. seuss with them. one of those children's books. i just want to call that to the attention of those who are listening that we do need to put books and reading material in the homes of those children. >> thank you so much. [applause] >> last three. >> good evening. i had the great fortune this morning to tune in to the joe madison show and heard you on the air, and also heard mr. king. and i said, i heard the story and i said, i sat straight up. i was preparing for a college class. i am an educator. i am not in the d.c. public schools. i work in a local jurisdiction here nearby. one of the things, i worked very close to the soviets with no child left behind, but on the montgomery county side, okay? we also have the poverty is
different on that site, okay? one of the things, and i'm very, very concerned about winning heard you this morning, the question i have for you, to the students at dunbar know their history? do they know the history of the school lacks one of the things that i am finding has been very upsetting to me, after attending the march on saturday and seeing the numbers of young students and college students who march. redeker from howard on the front page of the "washington post" yesterday, the kids, our children don't know their history. and because of that, they have nothing to really aspire to, to know that all of this greatness came before them and paved the way. have you had the opportunity to
present your book to the students of the school? >> not yet. very interesting, i got an e-mail today from the penfold association that once to buy a by the books and put them in the school had become talk. i said absolutely, i would be happy to, to give us in the chance to read the book and process it. yeah, i found, i found it so upsetting, too, when i went into thousand six. they kind of knew the history a little bit, sort of. that's another reason why i wanted to write the book is i feel like it's an awful and pernicious lie that education, is not a part of black history. so many kids have bought that hook, line, and sinker that it's a white thing. >> that's my concern. as leader of the school as far as i'm concerned i know today with the first day of school to the open the state of art building. you should've been there today. and addressed the students body with this book, along with the
parents, and that's the other peace. you can have pda, you can all of that, but if the parents also don't know the story, we have babies raising babies. and if the parents don't have some idea of the history, the richness of the building and the people who came before their kids in this building, we're going to lose. we're going to lose them. the school is going to not be for those students who are most at risk and that's just something i hope that everyone here will keep in mind as we move forward. so i wish you well. i am taking it to the causeway speak as an adjunct, and it's going to be book that my students are going to read this year. >> thank you. [applause] that's great. >> good evening, everyone. had opportunity meet you briefly friday at the walk there.
i am looking forward to reading your book. class of 94. the statement about what mayor greg had to say, i did come up and see. i have to represent my year, my decade, and i agree. i'm disappointed in our lack of support. what i try to do is leverage the excitement of the new building to reach out to the alum that i am in connection with from the '90s and 2008 get them reengaged to help them see that they play a role in preserving the legacy and protecting the brand. >> you had doctor russo as principle, one of the great last principle at dunbar spent i was under doctor russo and judith in the engine program. i pretty much grew up in second
anti-street. my friends were family, descendents of ms. cooper so i was in their home all the time and us all the old books and the pictures and everything. i'm really looking forward to get that extra history that i didn't get. but just want to let you know that we are here. the '90s are here. for all the dunbar -- [inaudible] >> i will. and all the members of the dunbar alumni federation, you will be seeing more of me. looking to finding ways to reengaged. >> great. [applause] >> hi. i'm eleanor smith yearwood, and i graduated in 1950. i knew arnold, and your mother was in a class with my brother and sister.
as i sit and listen details about dunbar, i feel sad because i don't feel, i feel that, i don't think that it can be what it was, which is, it can become a you know, the past cannot be with the future is. i'm concerned that the other high schools taken a lot of the cream of the crop. as i looked at that wall with pictures of the previous graduates, i felt, you know, will that be possible for this school? because a lot of those people are at the other school. sans i'm wondering what does the new school company the new
dunbar offer in terms of, compared to what it was? >> i'm not buying into the idea that dunbar's past will help fuel the future and inspire the future. and the coach was very going to be. he said these kids aren't going to go to columbia but they're going to go to coppin. they're going to get to the next step. that's the next that. we need to get all these kids in college. he may not be a college that you think is an ivy league school but is going to be a good school and they're going to get educated and that so we need to focus now is getting kids, he's focusing getting his goes into a college. it's a long process. think about, it's hard to think it's been that long that things have been tough at dunbar but i think it took 30 years to get there, it might take 30 years to get back the other way. >> [inaudible] spent i hope you enjoy it.
>> good evening, everyone. spent this is one of my -- >> i learned a long time ago because of slavery times that its most important for you to remember who you are, and to set all of your names. there's so much that i would like to have told you when you interviewed us. one thing i forgot to chile was that my paternal grandmother, mary emma surgeon -- sturgeon fisher graduated from dunbar, the old high school in 1878 -- 98. and lawrence graves it was a coordinator for all of the
classes found the program of my grandmother from that graduation, and she was in the school of business, which didn't last very long. but i'm so happy that you have written this book. there's so many memories, as you know, my husband, floyd and die, and some others who are here, were in the class with jojo. >> my dad. >> and my brother was in the class with your mother. in 1947. but we have members of the class in 1946. my husband and i have so many memories about dunbar and i know they are the same, saying, you can't go home again. we can't go back, but the memories are very, very strong for us who are 85 years old now.
there were many things that are class did upon graduation. we did try to act as mentors to classes. we had a scholarship fund and the federation is doing that now. we just want to go forward. i mean, i know we're sorry about the things that happened, but we have to go on forward, go forward with the things that we can really do now. and perhaps, even though we can't go back, we can go forward with the things that we know and do things that we have done, and with persons are still alive and remembered all of the good things that happen at dunbar. and i just want to thank you spend your well. one of the things i wanted to mention moscow i'm glad to mention scholarships because dunbar alumni federation has done a fantastic job with scholarships and want to do something but i couldn't give money to them because you can't give money to people you write
about. it's wrong, called paying off. i took my advancement from this book of esther a first class scholarship at the united negro scholarship fund. it's not a lot of money but if f it helps some kid not to have to work and be able to study at school, it is also for anybody to contribute to. you can get through it -- to it through my website. am i going to sign some books now? >> so, for people who might have missemissed it, the express ande post did a write up of dunbar, and did an interview with ms. stewart on wednesday summit had to go to the archives to check it out. what i would like for us to do is to make sure we sell out of this book. they are available for everyone, but i couldn't let you get your question, please get the book and come and talk with ms. stewart. thank you so much, great. philadelphia chapter -- fold up